Why we're here:
This blog is to highlight the unjust persecution of legitimate non-TV users at the hands of TV Licensing. These people do not require a licence and are entitled to live without the unnecessary stress and inconvenience caused by TV Licensing's correspondence and employees.

If you use equipment to receive or record live broadcast television programmes then the law requires you to have a licence and we encourage you to buy one.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

It's Time to Axe the BBC Television Tax

According to the Sunday Express's lead article, as many as 50 backbench Conservative MPs are calling for the abolition of the £145.50 TV licence fee.

The group, led by Andrew Bridgen MP, propose that future funding of the BBC should be by voluntary subscription, where only those wanting to consume BBC content end up paying for it.

As mentioned in our article last night, Mr Bridgen sent a letter outlining the proposals to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid MP.

The full text of that letter, dated 15th November 2014, appears below:
Dear Sajid,

I am writing with reference to the forthcoming BBC Charter renewal and more specifically regarding the future of the BBC Licence Fee. You will be aware that I brought forward the amendment which has led to your department reviewing the criminalisation of non-payment of the TV Licence with a view to full decriminalisation. As I put together my campaign on this issue, I found a great deal of concern both amongst my colleagues and the wider public regarding the current funding structure of the BBC and the sustainability of the model.

The Television Licence Fee dates back to 1946, and has been classified as a tax since 2006 by the Office of National Statistics who state "in line with the definition of a tax, the Licence fee is a compulsory payment which is not paid solely for access to BBC services. A licence is required to receive ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, satellite and cable". As a tax, it acts as one, if not the most regressive tax in the UK today. You stated yourself recently that the licence fee is "a large amount for many families" and during my research into people who have been sent to prison for non-payment, it was clear that in many cases affordability was the key issue.

With the rate of technological change since the last Charter, I feel that the current 12 year period is excessive given the current media environment. Since 2004, we have seen significant change with the increases in broadband speeds, the advent of the iplayer and subscription channels such as Netflix. With nearly 500,000 people accessing BBC services via the iplayer for free, licence fee payers are being discriminated against to the tune of around £70 million, and that number could well increase in the future.

Therefore the current BBC funding structure is increasingly becoming unsustainable, and out of keeping with the modern media environment. I believe strongly that the BBC should be planning for a future without the licence fee, and investigating subscription based payment options as well as the wealth of further opportunities that exist for its worldwide operation. I also believe Government has to play its role to ensure valued services such as news and local radio are still freely available, and consult on whether attaching a fee to the Council Tax or some similar method could be found.

I would be grateful if you could comment on my concerns regarding the BBC licence fee.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Bridgen MP

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Sunday Express: End of the TV Licence

"End of the TV Licence" is the eye catching headline on the front of tomorrow's Sunday Express.

It appears that 50 backbench Conservative MPs, led by Andrew Bridgen, are calling for the £145.50 TV licence fee to be scrapped and replaced by a voluntary subscription model.

In a letter to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, Mr Bridgen is quoted as saying: "(The TV licence) is increasingly becoming unsustainable and out of keeping with the modern media environment".

Mr Bridgen added that "it is one of the most regressive taxes in the UK today".

Andrew Allison, of the Freedom Association’s Axe The Tax campaign, said: "The BBC should move to a subscription model as soon as is practicable.

"It is the only way forward and the ­corporation should realise this. The sheer pace of technological change will render the licence fee redundant. It is a matter of when the fee goes, not if."

At the moment, regardless of how seedy its scandal or woeful its output, the BBC is handed £3.6 billion of licence fee revenue on a silver plate. The licence fee stems back to an era when the BBC was the only broadcaster. In the 21st century, with hundreds of rival broadcasters sharing the airwaves, it is obscene that every TV viewer is legally compelled to fund the frivolous spending habits and corrupt practices of the BBC.

The TV Licensing Blog would actively encourage a move towards such a voluntary subscription model. It is only right that the BBC should live or die on its own commercial merits, the same as every other broadcaster.

If the BBC produces quality content, then people will be willing to pay for it. If it continues to cover up scandal, report biased news and reheat archive content, the audience will turn elsewhere and the BBC deserves to die.

Make no mistake that the BBC would fight tooth and nail to retain the TV licence fee, as it provides a guaranteed annual cash injection for very little effort. We can expect champagne-quaffing BBC executives to extol the virtues of retaining the licence fee over coming days. No doubt they'll recite well-rehearsed horror stories about the collapse of obscure BBC radio stations that virtually no-one ever listens to. How, pray tell, could the nation ever survive without BBC local radio to provide round-the-clock traffic updates and programmes about gardening? Very easily is the answer.

The BBC has already issued the following statement in response to the article: "At just £2.80 a week the BBC Licence Fee is excellent value for money - only this weekend newspapers have been reporting the rising costs of subscription services. It's vital that programmes like EastEnders, Strictly, Sherlock, Doctor Who and Match of the Day can been watched by everyone - not a select few; and support for the Licence Fee has actually risen by 22% since 2004 and remains the most popular way of funding the BBC."

Remember that for the equivalent of the licence fee you can subscribe to both Netflix and Amazon Prime, neither of which legally requires a TV licence. More information in our earlier post.